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Irish PM logs UN e-school in India

The move was aimed at enhancing the reach and quality of education through information and communication tech.

india Updated: Jan 20, 2006 12:00 IST

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern on Tuesday launched the global e-schools and communities initiative (GeSCI) in India to enhance the reach and quality of education through information and communication technology (ICT).

"The initiative marks a new partnership between Ireland and India, which share a long-standing relationship in multiple areas spanning political, cultural and economic areas," said Ahern, who landed here on Monday on a weeklong visit to India.

As a founding member of GeSCI, Ireland played a key role in setting up the initiative along with the governments of Sweden, Switzerland and Canada. The multilateral funded organisation was set up in 2004 by the UN ICT task force, headed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, to attain the millennium development goals in developing countries.

"Using ICT as a powerful tool, GeSCI is intended to bring best international practices to India in the field of education. We hope to draw upon the experience of India in the application of ICT in education as an added value to the initiative."

On the launch occasion, GeSCI signed two agreements with Nasscom (National Association of Software and Service Companies) and MAIT (Manufacturers Association of Information Technology) to provide a framework for collaboration with the Indian ICT industry in promoting educational and development goals.

The agreements were signed by GeSCI Executive Director Stephen Nolan, Nasscom President Kiran Karnik and MAIT's southern region Chairman Sanjay Handu.

"GeSCI works as a catalyst to implement comprehensive end-to-end school programmes. The initiative links ICT in school programmes with broader social and community goals through public-private partnership," Ahern said in his brief address at the launch event.

The Irish prime minister said he was looking forward to new partnerships in the knowledge sector for expanding economic and trade ties between the two countries.

In this context, Ahern also recalled the historic ties between the two countries in education wherein hundreds of Irish teachers contributed significantly by serving in Indian schools and colleges over the decades.

"Several of these Irish teachers continue to have strong emotional links with India, which has a sound educational system to create an excellent talent pool that is attracting global attention. India has emerged as a global destination for R&D."

Participating in the inaugural event, Karnataka Chief Minister N Dharam Singh said the state was a pioneer in using ICT to bridge the digital divide and user in e-governance.

"Karnataka is the first state in the country to introduce several e-initiatives for bringing in transparency and efficiency in the delivery system. Apart from introducing computers in government schools, we are offering midday meals to 1.15 million children to reduce school drop-outs at a cost of Rs.2.8 billion," Dharam Singh disclosed.

According to GeSCI India programme director Aruna Sundararajan, the organisation proposes to work at the state and national levels, assisting the stakeholders, including state governments and private partners in implementing ICT in education strategies and programmes.

"We are already partnering with the Rajasthan government in association with the World Economic Forum and the CII for improving the education system in the northern state. We are also in dialogue with other states, including Karnataka for launching the e-school programmes," Sundararajan said.

The Irish prime minister goes to Delhi Wednesday and then moves on to Mumbai.

First Published: Jan 17, 2006 14:50 IST